Is Condo’s Shared Stairwell a Limited Common Element of Common Element?

L.B. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My building has 16 units and the units are ranch style so there are units above and below. For every 4 units (2 up and 2 down) there is a shared stairwell behind the build for the 4 units to use as a rear exit. Note this is the only 2nd exit for the upper units but is a 3rd exit for the 2 units below as the lower units also have a walk out garage. Is the shared stairwell considered a limited common element or is it considered a common element?

Mister Condo replies:

L.B., regardless of how the stairs are used, they are a common element of the association. The stairwell is not owned by any one unit owner and are the association’s responsibility. Unless the condo docs state differently, they should be treated as a common element in my opinion. Is there a reason for the distinction? Is there a question of who pays for the maintenance and upkeep of the common element? I am not really sure I understand why it matters as the association is charged with the maintenance and upkeep of the stairwell. All the best!

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